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´╗┐Sample Writing Prompts Fall 2009

Released for classroom use

A Note about these prompts....

State writing prompts address experiences and interests relevant to the student's age level. Although prompts may encourage students to write from experience, they are not intended to intrude on personal feelings or call for discussion of personal values. They are designed to be free of stereotype--age, gender, geographic, ethnic, socioeconomic, religious, or physical disability.

Contained in this document are a series of sample prompts from previous state tests and field tests, arranged by grade level and mode. They may be used as class assignments or practice tests, as described in the introductory section.

The modes in which a student may write (narrative, expository, persuasive, and imaginative) are defined in the document Writing Test Specifications and Blueprints, which also can be found on the ODE website ().

Using Sample Writing Prompts

In addition to developing new topics to assign students and encouraging students to develop their own topics, teachers may assign topics from the sample prompts listed on the following pages.

Here are some suggestions for using sample prompts to help students practice writing. Please note, however, that the classroom practices described here would not be allowable during administration of the statewide writing assessment, which must be completed adhering to the procedures outlined in the Test Administration Manual (). Further, many of these practices would NOT be appropriate during the production of a required work sample, which should represent a student's original work.

For classroom instruction, teachers may find the following practices helpful:

? Assign topic: Teacher assigns a topic or supplies a short list of topics from which students can choose.

? Brainstorm topic: Students participate in one-onone, small group, or classroom discussions as they choose and narrow their topics.

? Pre-write: Students prepare to write by mapping, webbing, outlining, word clustering, etc.

? First draft: Let thoughts flow (revising, editing and proofreading come later).

? Peer response: Students give each other specific feedback, using the student language version of

the scoring guide to provide meaningful comments. They may actually score papers, followed by one-on-one discussion. The teacher may circulate around the room during this time, also offering verbal feedback.

? Second draft: Using peer and teacher feedback, students revise their first draft, correcting conventions errors in particular. The second draft should represent the students' very best work, given everything they know about writing and the feedback they receive.

? Scoring: Teacher scores the second draft using scoring guide. Written comments point out specific characteristics (e.g., Conclusion could be more developed).

? Revision: Using written teacher feedback, students revise second draft, paying close attention to each trait and all written comments. Students correct all conventions errors that are pointed out, and respond to other suggestions. This is not just a proofreading exercise; students should engage in deep revision. The scoring guide can help with specific suggestions for revision.

As the state test approaches, teachers may create an environment for students similar to the actual test.

? Give students a choice of three prompts from the sample list that follows, and

? Require students to work independently to produce final essays of about two pages in length over the course of three class sessions.

Sample Writing Prompts

Elementary (Grades 3-4-5)


Tell a true story about something fun or interesting you did on a summer afternoon.

An "adventure" could be any new experience that had some challenges. Tell a true story about an "adventure" you have had by yourself, with your family, or with a friend.

Tell a true story about a time or an event that you would like to remember.

Have you ever made someone happy--or given someone a good surprise? Tell a true story about a time when your actions had a positive effect on someone else.

Tell a true story about a time you really appreciated getting help from someone. You may have been given advice, given help with a project, been loaned something you needed, or given some other kind of help you appreciated.

Tell a true story about a time when you ate your favorite food.

Tell a true story about a time when you helped someone or someone helped you.

Tell a true story about a time when you felt proud because of something you did or something you made.


Fish have fins, birds have wings, turtles have shells, and slugs have slime. Think of an animal and explain the things that make it special.

Think of one important way your school or classroom could be improved. Explain what that change would be and why it is important.

If you could create the perfect parade for your town, what would it be like? Explain what the parade would celebrate and what it would include.

Think of an invention that you think would make a major improvement to the world's future. Explain your invention and what effects it would have.

Many people have an activity or hobby they like. Choose one of your favorite activities and explain it to someone who doesn't know much about it.

A new student has just joined your class. Explain some things that will help him or her get used to this new school and new class.

Think of a person who is one of the most interesting people you have ever met. Explain what this person is like.

Think about a character in a book that you would like to meet. Explain what makes this character someone you would like to know.

Oregon Department of Education/Office of Assessment


Sample Prompts, Fall 2009

Sample Writing Prompts

All living things grow and change. Think of a living thing that you know about, and explain how it grows and changes.

Many of us have ordinary objects that are special to us. Explain the significance of the object that holds special meaning to you, but others might consider ordinary.


Imagine that you find a one-dollar bill on the street. As you look closely, you can see that a note has been written on it. Make up a story about what it says and what happens.

Imagine that you are at the beach or in the mountains or anywhere else. Make up an imaginative story about what happens there.

Make up a story about a drawing, painting, sculpture or statue that comes to life.

Writers sometimes give characters names that describe them like Pippi Longstocking, Sleepy, Bashful, and Grumpy. Create a name for a character and make up a story about something that happens to that character.

Suppose you could combine two animals. Make up a story that tells about this new animal's adventures.

Make up a character who might be in a cartoon, a comic book, a legend, or a myth. Make up a story about him or her.

Imagine you have done something that has been written up in a book called The Almanac of Amazing Things. Make up a story about the unusual thing you did.

The teacher placed a sack on the desk and left. It started to move. Make up a story about what happened.

Imagine that you are going to create a special dessert or treat for a family celebration. Make up a story about making that dessert or treat and then sharing it at the celebration.

Imagine that you are able to swim under water easily without having to come up for air. Make up a story in which you get to use that new swimming skill.

Decide on something fun or interesting that you would like to do with a grandparent or other relative. It could be anything. Make up a story about what you do with them.

Imagine you are a pet that talks. You are in a fancy restaurant with your owner. Make up a story about something that happens.

Sometimes when people look at clouds in the sky they think they can see the shapes of animals, people, objects or other figures. Make up a story about one of these shapes coming to life.

You find a pair of special glasses. When you put these on, wonderful things happen. Make up a story about an adventure wearing these glasses.

Oregon Department of Education/Office of Assessment


Sample Prompts, Fall 2009

Sample Writing Prompts

Middle School (Grades 6-7-8)


Oregon has had some extreme weather in the past few years. Tell a true story about a fun or challenging time you had during bad or extreme weather.

People often help each other. Tell a true story about a time when one person helped another, or when a group of people worked together to provide someone help.

Many people influence us. Sometimes they introduce us to a new interest or hobby, or sometimes they affect our views on things. Think of someone who has had a significant influence on you and tell a true story about it.

People learn things throughout their lives. Tell a true story about a time when you learned to do something.

You don't have to spend money to have a good time. Tell a true story about when you had a great time without spending a lot of money.

Walt Disney once said, "If you can dream it, you can do it." Tell a true story about a time when this was true for you or someone you know.

Lots of people try to give us advice--parents, friends, brothers or sisters, teachers, etc. Tell a true story about a time you were given or gave advice. Tell if the advice was followed or not and the results.


Bullying is a problem in many schools. Write a paper to explain what can be done about it.

Looking back over your years in school so far, explain what you would want to tell your teachers that might help them teach other students more effectively.

Think of an historical place or object that you have seen or read about. Explain what this place or object is and why it is interesting or important.

What do you think is the best thing to do when someone says, "Who wants to go first?" or "Does anyone want to volunteer?" Write a paper to explain what you think is the best approach when you hear those words.

Research shows that people communicate messages about who they are by the clothing they wear. Explain how and in what ways you think clothing sends messages to other people

Students sometimes question how things they learn will help them in their later lives. Think of a positive learning experience that you have had and explain how what you learned will be useful to you in the future.

Explain your dream home of the future and what would make it perfect for you.

Oregon Department of Education/Office of Assessment


Sample Prompts, Fall 2009


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